Only as Good as Your Word: Writing Lessons from My Favorite Literary Gurus

Susan Shapiro, Author . Seal $14.95 (405p) ISBN 978-1-58005-220-7

Since moving to New York in 1981 at age 20, Shapiro has realized her dream: she has written articles for the New York Times , Washington Post , and Glamour , and three memoirs. In this lively, inspiring and dishy memoir/advice book, she shares the secrets of her success, some learned the hard way, others gleaned from her stellar array of mentors, including Ian Frazier and Howard Fast (who was married to her mother’s cousin). Fast’s wife, Bette, also provided young Susan with advice: ”get your own career and money, so the men can’t control you.... But cooking and wearing a dress won’t make you a Barbie doll.” Fast himself cautioned her against self-indulgence: “just get to work. Remember, a plumber never gets plumber’s block.” Shapiro made other connections on her own as a grad student at NYU, which led to a job as a researcher at the New Yorker , which led to more connections. Not everybody’s going to have a bestselling relative, but everybody has a high school English teacher—that was Shapiro’s first guru—and she makes it clear that she learned as much from him as she did from her high-profile mentors. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/09/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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